Home embroidery machine comparison: Brother, Babylock, Janome and Ricoma

Looking for the right home embroidery machine among the clutter of outdated information on the internet? If you answered “YES,” you might be pleased to hear we did all the research for you! In this article, we’re going to share…

  • A comparison chart and analysis of four multi-needle home embroidery machines
  • The key features to look for in a professional home embroidery machine
  • The difference between the single-needle home embroidery machine and the multi-needle home embroidery machine
  • The top players in the home embroidery machine market

Once we’re finished, you’ll have the knowledge you need to make an educated decision and to apply what you’ve learned when weighing your options. Let’s jump right in!

What are the key features to look for in a home embroidery machine?

If you’re looking for an embroidery machine, you probably already know the key features that you need to look for in a professional embroidery machine.

Most embroidery machine reviews or comparisons usually mention the importance of the following key features:

  • Maximum embroidery area: The larger the sewing field, the wider the variety of designs and garments that can be embroidered. A limited embroidery area will limit you to a small range of projects and designs.
  • Memory size: If the embroidery machine has a larger memory capacity, it can hold a lot more designs. This will reduce the time you spend importing and deleting designs from the embroidery machine, allowing you to operate your machine more efficiently. For that reason, it’s more common to see a larger memory size in an embroidery machine for business than in a home embroidery machine.
  • Usability: This refers to how long the embroidery machine will last throughout the years and whether or not the machine is designed for daily use. Those who want an embroidery machine for home business purposes will opt for a multi-needle home embroidery machine rather than a single-needle home embroidery machine. This is simply because multi-needle home embroidery machines are built to last a lot longer and are more efficient if you’re looking to produce a side income.

Now that we’re familiar with the key features to look for in a home embroidery machine, you have the knowledge you need to make an educated decision and choose an embroidery machine that fits your needs.

Who are the top players in the multi-needle home embroidery machine market?

Embroidery machine comparisons

Most embroidery machine reviews only review consumer models and ignore the multi-needle home embroidery machine.

If you’ve ever researched embroidery machine reviews, these are the main names you’ve probably seen tossed around:

  • Janome embroidery machine
  • Singer embroidery machine
  • Babylock embroidery machine
  • Brother embroidery machine

There’s just one problem with what we’re seeing in most embroidery machine reviews…

They’re only talking about the single-needle market!

While these are all well-established and trusted brands, the machines being reviewed are best for embroiderers who don’t plan on using their machine on an everyday basis.

So what about the people who want to consistently run their machine and maybe even produce a side income?!

That’s where the multi-needle home embroidery machine comes into play. The multi-needle home embroidery machine is quickly becoming preferred among hobbyists and home-based entrepreneurs. While the single-needle home embroidery machine still holds the largest presence in the home embroidery market, multi-needle home embroidery machines have attracted those who want the comfort of embroidering from home but still want to produce a side income (or just don’t want to spend hours on projects that could be done in minutes.)

To aide you in your research process, we’ve put together a side-by-side comparison of the most-searched embroidery machine brands in 2017. In it, you’ll see a comparison of each brand’s most popular multi-needle home embroidery machine. 

Needles: The reason why it’s important to look at the number of needles is because the more needles the machine has, the more efficient the machine will be. If it has a sufficient amount of needles, you won’t have to swap the thread and rethread the needle every time you have to embroider a different color. This will allow you to complete projects faster if you’re looking to operate at a profit or if you just don’t have the time or desire to take hours to complete a project on a single-needle that could be completed in minutes on a multi-needle. Out of this list, these are the same across the board with the Ricoma, Babylock and the Brother. The Janome embroidery machine is the only one that doesn’t have 10.

Category winner: Tie between Ricoma, Brother and Babylock

Digitizing software: Most brands will include lite or basic digitizing software that allows users to edit already-digitized designs. Whether you’re a hobbyist or want an embroidery machine for home business use, chances are, you probably won’t be need to do full digitizing. Most embroiderers outsource their digitizing and use the lite version for minimal editing. You’ll also have the option to purchase the full version of the embroidery software, but most of the time, this is not necessary if you’re outsourcing your digitizing.

Category winner: All

Cap attachment: If you want to embroider caps, you’ll need a cap attachment. The cap embroidery machine attachment is already included within the Ricoma embroidery machine price. The other brands have an equally wide cap frame, but the main downside is that you’ll have to pay for the cap attachment separately if you plan on doing cap embroidery. Machine attachments for these brands can cost up to $1,500. The cap embroidery attachment is a wise choice for anyone who wants a versatile home embroidery machine. Additionally, custom hats are both highly demanded and profitable. With the Ricoma embroidery machine, you won’t spend any extra money on these parts because they’re already included with the machine.

Category winner:  Ricoma

Speed: Maximum embroidery speed is important because it will help determine how fast you can complete a project. You’re definitely going to want to complete projects faster if you’re looking for a side income. This is pretty much the same across the board with the Ricoma embroidery machine, Brother embroidery machine and Babylock embroidery machine at 1,000 stitches per minute, which is the speed of many commercial embroidery machines.  The Janome embroidery machine is a bit slower, however.

Category winner: Tie between Ricoma, Brother and Babylock

Memory size: If the machine has a larger memory size, it can hold a larger amount of stitches and designs. This is a time-saving feature that will eliminate the time spent importing and deleting designs from the embroidery machine. The Ricoma embroidery machine is the only one from this list that actually has the same memory capacity as the standard industrial single-head on the market. Meanwhile, the Brother embroidery machine and Babylock embroidery machine are tied at 500,000 stitches.

Category winner: Ricoma

Maximum embroidery area: The embroidery area is an important feature because it will determine the variety of garments you can embroider. The larger the area, the larger the designs and items you can embroider. The Brother embroidery machine and Babylock embroidery machine both lead this category. The Ricoma embroidery machine comes in next at 12 by 8 inches, and the Janome embroidery machine comes in last at 9.4 by 7.9 inches.

Category winner: Brother and Babylock

Flat hoops: The flat hoops are the actual frames your design will be embroidered within. If you’re not familiar with machine embroidery, you’ll need these hoops to support your garment. Most embroidery machine suppliers will provide flat hoops with the purchase of an embroidery machine.

Category winner: Tie between Ricoma, Babylock and Brother

Cap hoops: The brands from this list don’t supply cap hoops within the initial embroidery machine price (unless their dealer upsells you to an all-inclusive package). Out of this list, the Ricoma embroidery machine is the only one that includes a cap hoop because it’s the only one that includes the cap attachment within the initial embroidery machine price.

Category winner:  Ricoma

Control panel: The size of the panel is more of a cosmetic feature, but it’s also very important if you want something clean, easy-to-use and operate. Both the Babylock embroidery machine and Brother embroidery machine have a 10-inch touch screen. The Ricoma follows with a 7-inch touch screen.

Category winner: Tie between Brother and Babylock

Warranty: Each warranty is up to 25 years for the chassis. As far as parts and labor, it varies a bit by brand but it’s usually somewhere from 1 to 2 years. For electronic parts, it’s usually 2 to 3 years; and for drive train components, it’s about five years.

Category winner: All

Financing: Financing is your best bet because a multi-needle embroidery machine is significantly more expensive than most single-needle embroidery machines. Financing at 0% eliminates upfront costs and interest rates, allowing you to enjoy the machine and maybe even make some side income as you go. Out of this list, Ricoma is the only company that offers 0% financing* at this time, so that’s definitely something to keep in mind if you’d rather spread out your payments. 


Category winner:  Ricoma

Bottom Line

This embroidery machine review compares the multi-needle home embroidery machine for the brands Janome, Ricoma, Brother and Babylock. Consistently leading in almost every category, the Ricoma embroidery machine was the overall winner. Meanwhile, the Brother embroidery machine and Babylock embroidery machine were the runner-ups. These machines have very similar features because they are both manufactured by Brother. While Babylock and Brother are well-established brands with great reputations, their machines are significantly more expensive than the Janome embroidery machine and the Ricoma embroidery machine (even though the main features are basically the same across the board.) All in all, you would get the highest value opting for the Ricoma embroidery machine because all the attachments are included within the initial embroidery machine price. Meanwhile, the other brands charge thousands more for attachments, which makes the embroidery machine price even higher.

This research and review was conducted by Ricoma. This information was found in 2017 and is currently available on the internet. There are many other embroidery machine brands out there that have not been mentioned, but these are the top 4 being searched (and that our clients ask us about).

Want to learn more? We put together the top 5 factors to consider when purchasing an embroidery machine. For any additional information about Ricoma or our machines, you can click here to check out Ricoma comparison charts and videos or go here to schedule a virtual demo.

Want to see one of our machines in action?

Schedule a free virtual demo if you want to see any of our machines in action. In it, you can ask any questions you have about the industry and see exactly how to start and run an embroidery project in real time.

Click here to schedule your free virtual demo

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